Indy Leaps to Head of Smart City Pack

There’s been quite a bit of talk during our current legislative session about addressing our state’s pressing infrastructure issues. And rightfully so, the adequate funding of Indiana’s roads and bridges is critical for a State that bills itself as “the Crossroads of America.”

What shouldn’t be overlooked in the conversation about asphalt and concrete is how quickly and quietly the Hoosier State now finds itself as a national leader in the infrastructure of the next century – smart city technology.

At an innovation event last week in the heart of Silicon Valley, AT&T announced that Indy will be one of the first two test markets in the country for its 5G wireless network. The improved technology will offer users peak speeds of 400 megabits per second, about four times faster than the current 4G technology.

But AT&T’s announcement means a lot more for Indy than just giving us faster download speeds for our favorite Netflix shows. The investment immediately puts Indy at the head of the pack in terms of the infrastructure necessary to support the sensors and hardware that makes smart city technology possible.

Then came today’s seismic announcement that Indy was selected from a field of 133 cities for a Readiness Challenge Grant from the Smart Cities Council. The grant will provide City leaders with unique programming, infrastructure, and resources to develop a roadmap for applying smart technologies. The result could be an explosion in smart city innovation and investment that improves the livability, workability, sustainability, and resiliency of the Circle City. Indy’s application focused on the areas of energy, transportation, water, and wastewater – all critical areas for the overall vibrancy of our community.

“The Smart Cities Council designation helps set the stage for Indianapolis to be a City of the future,” said Lauren Riga, Indy’s project lead for Smart Cities  “Innovative public private partnerships will continue to emerge as communities leap into the digital era to enhance city services and attract industries of the future.”

“There is tremendous momentum in Indy’s technology ecosystem,” said Bill Soards, President of AT&T Indiana. “Today’s announcement is further recognition that Indianapolis is embracing a smarter more sustainable future.”

Taken together, these developments provide the City of Indianapolis with a tremendous opportunity to shape the smart city conversation, not just locally but nationally, moving forward. The infrastructure and resources are now in place for the City to explore the full possibilities of smart infrastructure.

What innovative startups can leverage this new technology? What non-profits and community organizations can derive valuable data that could make Indy a healthier and safer place to call home? How can State and Local government use the new technology to find efficiencies, save resources, and deliver better constituent services?

Indy’s policy makers and tech community suddenly find themselves in the driver’s seat for the great infrastructure opportunity of the next century. Other cities and states will most certainly either look to us for leadership and to follow in our footsteps, or if we stand still, look to move past us.

Unequivocally, Indy is now a national leader in smart city technology. Let’s work to keep it that way.

 

Matt Kirby
Open Indy Brigade Co-Founder
@IndKirby